Diaper rashes are a common skin concern for infants and toddlers. They cause red splotches and scales to appear in the genital area and on the child’s bottom. But, there are ways to help treat a bad diaper rash at home.

Diaper rashes are common because they grow in warm, moist places. That makes a diaper the perfect place for the rash to develop. Factors that can make diaper rash more likely include:

  • diapers that are too tight
  • sensitive skin
  • irritated skin
  • antibiotics
  • introducing new foods

In some cases, a diaper rash might spread up the child’s legs and to the stomach. Fortunately, you can treat most mild cases at home. Try the tips below to help relieve your child’s diaper rash.

The most important step you can take to prevent and treat a rash is keeping your baby’s diaper dry and clean. When you change the diaper, clean the area gently with a soft cloth or a squirt of water from a bottle. Wipes are fine, just be gentle.

Don’t rub the skin too hard, and avoid wipes with alcohol. It can also help to give your child some time without a diaper when they have a rash. You can lay towels or disposable waterproof pads down so that your child can have some diaper-free time.

It’s best to change your child’s diaper as soon as possible. It only takes a little bit of trapped moisture to irritate the skin and cause a rash. That’s why even slightly wet diapers should be changed right away, especially if your child has an active diaper rash.

Cloth diapers have several benefits, but they’re not the best choice when your child has a diaper rash. It can help to switch to super-absorbent disposable diapers until the diaper rash heals. They’ll help keep your child dry and can promote faster healing.

Wearing the wrong size diaper can increase the chances of diaper rash and make it harder for an active rash to heal. A diaper that’s too tight can cause extra moisture and faster rash growth. A diaper that’s too large can rub and cause friction that makes rashes worse.

Check your child’s current diaper size. Switching to a new size might help.

You can use pastes or barrier creams that contain zinc to soothe the skin and prevent contact with feces and other irritants. Examples of these products include:

  • Triple Paste
  • A+D
  • Balmex
  • Desitin

Apply a thin layer to prevent stool or urine from touching your baby’s skin.

Jellies like Vaseline may be ideal, since they’re inexpensive and usually contain fewer dyes or perfumes. However, jellies may stick to cloth diapers and can be hard to wash off. They also don’t offer a barrier as strong as other creams.

Consider alternative soothing remedies

Some people claim that alternative or natural remedies provide better relief for their child’s diaper rash.

However, most of these methods haven’t been researched and aren’t backed by scientific studies. Use caution with any of them and stop if you notice that the rash is getting worse or doesn’t seem to be healing.

Popular alternative remedies include:

Shop for diaper rash creams

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When it comes to preventing and treating diaper rash, less is more. Avoid using highly fragranced products, including fabric softeners and dryer sheets. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free are much less irritating for many babies.

You should also refrain from using baby powder on your baby. It’s a no-no for babies because they can inhale it, which can harm their lungs.

Cornstarch is another remedy that isn’t safe to use on little ones because they can also inhale the powder, and it can irritate their lungs. Cornstarch can also worsen diaper rashes caused by the fungus Candida.

Diaper rashes are caused by moisture and friction irritating your child’s skin. It often happens when urine and feces sitting against their skin in the diaper cause the skin to become red irritated. However, this isn’t the only cause. Other causes include:

  • diapers rubbing, chaffing, and causing irritation
  • an allergic reaction to laundry detergent, bubble bath, wipes, or another product that touches your child’s skin
  • a reaction to antibiotics
  • an allergic reaction to newly introduced foods

Diaper rashes are common and can happen to any child who wears a diaper. However, some risk factors make it more likely that a child will develop a diaper rash.

These include:

  • being between 6 and 9 months old
  • having diarrhea
  • having a cold or other illness
  • taking antibiotics
  • starting to eat solid foods
  • starting to sleep through the night

Although diaper rashes can look painful and irritated, they often won’t bother your child. The exception is when the rash becomes infected.

An infected diaper rash should be treated by a pediatrician. It’s a good idea to make an appointment if you suspect your child’s diaper rash is infected.

Symptoms of an infected diaper rash include:

  • blisters on the diaper area
  • fever
  • redness
  • swelling
  • pus or discharge that drains from the diaper area
  • a rash that will not go away after treatment or starts to worsen

Your baby’s rash can also develop into a secondary fungal or yeast infection called candidiasis. It appears bright red and raw.

It can sometimes be found in the creases of the skin, with spots of the red rash outside of the diaper area on the abdomen or thighs. These are known as satellite lesions.

Check with your doctor or nurse for a diagnosis if you notice these symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream if they think your baby has a fungal diaper rash.

If your child becomes difficult to console or seems to be in pain related to their diaper rash, these are also signs to call the pediatrician.